Like in Chinese calligraphy, Ding Yi’s marks connote a certain correlation between the order of the universe and that of the human. The awakening of the individual in relation to the collective whole, present in Zen practices, mirrors the role Ding Yi holds in his own art making
The individual is inevitably part of the system, the matrix, the mesh of society but also, finally, beyond categorization. Each repetition, each cross, states this. And simultaneously refuses to acknowledge it (Thibaut Verhoeven)
In revealing the cacophonous complexity of the contemporary urban experience, the artist forges an order amidst the chaos. And this is perhaps what is most inspiring: Ding Yi’s unique practice offers a model for negotiating our own experience of the present (Hans Ulrich Obrist)
The quality of Ding Yi’s art in abstract aesthetics and logic has reached the highest achievement. His art can be regarded as part of Zen meditation and is the complete interpretation of time, space and the passage through life (Ai Weiwei)
A history of statements and refusals (Christopher Moore)
Ding Yi about his art:
The development in my painting might look like something simply happening on the surface, but instead it reflects the profound changes that are occurring in Chinese society. My ideas develop from those I gather from the whole world. Chinese artists of my generation are subject to many different influences, from traditional Chinese painting and Russian socialist realism, from Western ideas through to greater historical forces.
It’s not my intention to do something that’s deliberately difficult. . . . The major challenge for me is to explore a new language with which to express myself, not to simplify the technique
I found it necessary to distance myself both from the burden of traditional Chinese culture and from the influence of early Western modernism, in order to go back to the starting point of art, in order to literally start from zero
I don't think so much about the future. Rather I want to express what is here now, because that is what’s most important. China now, Shanghai now
When an artist creates a work, sometimes it’s deliberate. Sometimes, however, you try to avoid a clearly defined strategy. I hold an extremely long-term view of things. I have a very deliberate strategy – as if I’m trying to build something that needs absolutism and self-control. I can’t be swayed by any sentiments. The thing I’m trying to build becomes very strict, and minimalist – or perhaps very rational. In the early stages, you have to establish your own style. You want to make your painting a very deliberate exercise in order to remain consistent. However, as you develop your work, you discover that such absolutism isn’t suited to all of your painting. You have to have a new perspective and ideas.
When I’m evaluating a painting, my first rule of thumb is “integrity”. A painting must have integrity; there must be no cunning little tricks by the artist. Don’t fiddle with the painting, don’t mess with its basic makeup or try to hide something bad inside it.
Ding Yi’s works were exhibited at the Venice Biennale, 1993; Sydney Biennale, 1998; Yokohama Triennale, 2001; Ikon Gallery (solo), Birmingham, 2005; Shanghai Biennale 2006; Galerie Greve, Paris, 2007; Museo d’Arte, Bologna (solo), 2008; Out of Shanghai, Museum gegenstandsfreier Kunst, Otterndorf, 2009; Verso Est, MAXXI, Rome, 2011; Minsheng Museum, Shanghai (2001); Contemporary Collection, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2015; Long Museum, Shanghai (solo), 2015; Busan Biennale 2016; Art and China after 1989; Guggenheim Museum, 2017; Guangdong Museum of Art (solo), 2018; Challenging Souls - Yves Klein, Lee Ufan, Ding Yi, Power Station of Art, Shanghai 2019; City on the Edge, UCCA Edge, Shanghai 2021.
Collections: USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena; Guangdong Museum of Art; Hubei Museum of Art; Chengdu Museum of Contemporary Art; The National Art Museum of China, Beijing; K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong; Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; University of Sydney Art Collection; Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Centre Pompidou, Paris; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; Long Museum, Shanghai; Shanghai Art Museum; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Fukuoka Art Museum; Uli Sigg Collection.